Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I Want to Read Before the Year Ends

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I haven’t been very active in the Top Ten Tuesday meme lately. It’s been crazy around here these past few weeks. And, somehow, I missed the week where you all chatted about the books you would like to read this fall. My list would have probably consisted of spooky books, those books I only tend to read around October. Instead of giving you today’s prompt of Ten Bookstores/Libraries I Would Love to Visit (which, let’s be real, that list would turn out to be 50 long), I decided to discuss the books I definitely need to read before the year is up.

I’m not talking about my Tackling TBR project, where I’m reading the oldest books on my TBR. These are just the books that I want to read to bring in a new year. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books I Want to Read Before the End of the Year

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert: Here’s a spooky read I really need to get to before the scary vibes end. Her grandmother has always warned her about the Hazel Wood, but when her mother is kidnapped and nowhere to be seen, Alice has no choice but to venture into the terrifying Hazel Wood and find her.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins: It’s a spooky time of year. I’ve been reading a marathon of scary books but I most definitely want to get to this one. Poor Sophie is exiled to a witch reform school after a spell goes terribly wrong. And that’s the least of her worries, when people have been getting attacked by a mysterious predator.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman: This is the part where I confess I haven’t started The Dark Artifices yet. I finished The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments last year and LOVED them. Yet, I’m waiting for the third and final book in the series to start reading so I can properly binge them all. While waiting for the third’s release in December, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and The Bane Chronicles have been calling me.

The Fandom by Anna Day: This book sounds amazing! Violet and her friends are enjoying Comic Con, except when they find themselves actually in the plot of one of their favorite fandoms. It’s up to Violet to put the plot back on track and hopefully, find a way back to our real world.

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard: I will never be ready for this book. Might as well take the band-aid off as quickly as possible, right? This is the last book in the Red Queen series and with looming war, betrayals, and rebellions, War Storm is bound to be the best one yet.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale: It’s time to finish this duology. I read Austenland so long ago. However, it centers around the perfect vacation spot, Austenland—a park that is sure to transport you to Austen’s time, complete with beautiful dresses, swoon-worthy actors, and lovely dances. From what I’ve heard, the sequel does not follow the original characters but it will still be great to return to Hale’s world!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi: It seems everyone has read this one but me. I’ve heard fantastic things about this. Penny and Sam strike up a texting relationship and get to know each other without the awkwardness of face-to-face conversation.

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins: Every year, I tell myself that I’m going to read this during the winter. And it never happens. This year will be different. I’ve already put this book on my top shelf, where I have to look at it every day. My True Love Gave to Me is a holiday short story collection from various authors.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: This one has been sitting on my shelf for a while. Recently, I found it on audio so it’s taking priority. It’s a short book. Plus, it sounds like there’s a little magical realism going on so Rowell’s writing will certainly shine. Georgie’s marriage is not doing so well. When she finds a way to communicate to her husband from the past, she may have a chance to save her marriage.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody: Just from reading the synopsis, this one sounds like it translates so well into film. I’ve only had this one for a few months but every time I look at my shelf, it screams at me to read it. Enne’s mother has gone missing. So, she drops everything to uncover the mystery which leads her to dark casinos, into the clutches of the Mafia.

What books are you hoping to get to before the end of the year? Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: October 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. I was so inspired by booktuber’s, BooksandLala, Closet Unhaul series to tackle my own TBR in a similar method. I'm going to challenge myself to read books from my old hauls and if I can’t complete them within the month, I must unhaul them the next month. Also, any readathons or other challenges for the month will also be posted in this monthly post.

Last month, I challenged myself to read the books from my December 2009 and April 2010 book haul. There were only three books which was a great way to start a new challenge. Except one of those books were over 700 pages which is incredible daunting. So, I was able to finish Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott and Betrayals by Lili St. Crow. They both made it on my September Wrap Up post. Sadly, I am still in the middle of Dark Visions by L.J. Smith which has 3 books in 1. It will, hopefully, be finished by the end of this month.

Now on to this month's reads from an old haul. Since I am a little late in posting a TBR, I've actually already started on a book which is why it will not show up in the screenshot. This month, I will be working through my August 2010 book haul of 6 books. 6 books is a little more frightening than just 3 but we shall see at the end of the month if I get these all done. And all these books just happen to be sequels of series I would like to keep since I own most of the books. 

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow: Since I read Betrayals last month, I'm ready to find out what happens next in the series. I wouldn't say it left me on a cliffhanger but at least, I remember what happened so we can jump right back into the story.

Deadly Little Games by Laurie Faria Stolarz: I can't even remember reading the sequel but according to Goodreads, I rated and reviewed it. So, it's on to the third book. Don't worry, I'm going back and skimming the second to get a gist of where we left off. Stolarz is one of my autobuy authors so I'm pretty excited to get to this one.

Angel by James Patterson: This one is available on audio at my library so it will definitely get done this month. I'm not too happy where the last book left off which is probably why I haven't continued on in the series. The series is about Max and her flock, a group of genetically altered bird children, who escape the School and try to get the word out of its evil.

Awakened by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast: I just finished this one! There's 12 books in this series and if I recall, Cast just created a new spin-off or continuation of this series that started this year. I don't know if I'll continue beyond the original 12. This is the 8th book and I'm kind of over it. The series is primarily about a boarding school that houses vampires where danger, it seems, is always lurking around every corner.

Ghost Town by Rachel Caine: This is another series that has gone on so long. Ghost Town is book 9 in the Morganville Vampires series. I used to read these books with my brother and now that he's left for college, I've just stopped halfway through the series. It'll be nice to read about all my favorite characters again.

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick: The sequel to Hush, Hush has been at the bottom of my tbr for a very long time. It's not that I don't want to read it. I just do not remember Hush, Hush at all except there's Nora and Patch--Patch is a fallen angel--and Nora has a gym class where she has to climb a rope. I don't even know if that's right. Hopefully, I can find a recap of the book online so I can read Crescendo.


After the success of last month's readathon, I thought I'd participate in another one. It'll force me to read some of my spooky books that I put off reading until it's October. Spookathon is hosted by BooksandLala, Bookerly, and Peter Likes Books. Here's the announcement and challenges for the readathon. I plan on reading 5 books for the readathon. It takes place between October 15th to the 21st. Here's the books and challenges I hope to complete:

read a thriller - 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil: According to Goodreads, 3:59 has been catagorized as a thriller 25 times so I'm counting it! I don't read or own many thrillers so this challenge took me the longest to figure out. I've unhauled most of McNeil's books after reading Ten last year but I kept 3:59 because its premise sounds amazing. Josie has been having dreams about an alternate version of herself every night at 3:59. When she wakes, she finds a portal leading into the other world and she jumps at the chance to switch places with herself. Only problem... she doesn't have any way to come back.

read a book with purple on the cover - The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff: I was going to choose Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl but that's over 500 pages so The Replacement has of twinge of purple in the baby carriage so we're going with that one. I can't really make sense of the synopsis but overall, it sounds like the main character may not be entirely human. When his friend's sister goes missing, he delves deep into an ancient evil realm to find her.

read a book with a spooky word in the title - And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich: Kurtagich freaked me out with The Dead House so I am so ready to get scared with And the Trees Crept In. "Crept" is a rather spooky word, don't you think? When Silla and Nori visit their aunt's house, there's no question the house is haunted. It seems that every time they look outside, the trees have moved closer. For me, that would be the time to run but, of course, Silla wants to uncover the secrets this house holds.

read a book not set in the current time period - The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson: I'm not quite sure in what time period this book takes place. However, it is set in a fantastical world so I'm counting it for this challenge. Wren goes undercover as an intern to find a way to put a stop to a magical war. This book releases in November.

read a book with pictures - Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs: I haven't picked up Map of Days yet but there's also pictures in this short story collection that goes along with Riggs' Peculiar series. It is probably the shortest book out of these 5 and I hope to read this in the middle of the week so it can serve as a break in between the bigger books I've chosen.

What do you plan to read this month? What series have you been putting off because you don't want them to end?

book review

A Voice that Needs to be Heard | Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Friday, October 05, 2018

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 10/9/18
Pages: 304
Source: publisher (thank you!; given in exchange for honest review)
New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love. When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?
When Louise’s boyfriend disrespects Native people, she breaks up with him. In doing so, she actively tries to avoid his crowd which means no cheerleading this year. Instead, she joins the school newspaper. There’s tons of features to cover throughout the year. When there’s backlash with the school musical director’s casting decision, the newspaper needs to cover every angle. Told in the voice of a Native teen, Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith gives readers a new perspective.

  • YA needs more books with Native teen voices. So, when I first heard about this diverse read, I knew I needed to give it a go. Some parts, including chapter titles and dialogue, are in the Mvskoke language. It truly immerses the reader in the story. There’s a glossary of the words in the back of the book. Not only through the language but through Louise's perspective do readers learn so much about the Muscogee culture. 
  • The Lord of the Rings references from their dogs' names to their hobbit holes in the yard warmed my fangirl heart. 
  • The Wolfe siblings were endearing characters. When they weren't in school, their family time equals that of the Song family in To All the Boys I've Loved Before. The bits of backstory of their move from Texas and learning how to speak Mvskoke from an app were sweet. However, I wish they were given a bit more depth. 
  • As much as we get inside Louise's mind, I feel like we have barely scratched the surface of her character. There was a lot of pining after a boy in Hearts Unbroken. Due to little narrative on Louise's actual feelings, it was unclear why she liked him. Most characters in the book were unlikable or so flat, readers knew very little about them. 
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Tantalize series is one of my favorites. Whenever she writes a new book, there are always the highest of expectations. Despite the fantastic voice, I was disappointed with the overall story. The story itself was rather weak and didn't seem to develop very well. As much as I enjoyed the voice, the structure wasn’t as seamless as Smith’s other novels. The writing was filled with short sentences and scenes that moved quick but seemed slow. There didn’t seem to be a natural flow to the story. The lack of events in the plot didn’t help readers focus on any one thing. Hearts Unbroken was a bit all over the place in the beginning. The last half of the novel, however, really turned the book around. 
  • Somewhere near the halfway point, the story all of a sudden becomes cohesive. Hearts Unbroken found a few points to draw readers’ attention to: the school production, Louise's participation in her school newspaper, and the romance. 

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith is disappointing with its slow start and scrambled plot. Despite that, it is still a novel whose voice needs to be heard.

kickin' it

Kickin' It: September 2018 Wrap Up

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. I've been slaying my reading goals lately. Due to a six week long course in June and July, I was in danger of getting behind. And August and September was where I turned all that around. I finished 13 books this month which is a number I'm so happy with. I, also, participated in my second-ever readathon, Contemporary-a-thon (I talk about that more in my tbr post) and read some good books for that. Also, this is the first month since trying to tackle my tbr by reading my oldest haul and it was partly a success. Let's take a look:

This is my haul from April 2010 and I am glad to report that I will not be unhauling any of these. I read Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott (2 stars) for the Contemporary-a-thon. It didn't impress me and I thought the protagonist whined a bit too much and the romance was lackluster. I own several more books by Elizabeth Scott and, hopefully, they are a bit better than this one. I read Betrayals by Lili St. Crow (3 stars) early on in the month. It reminded me how much I miss reading supernatural stories. I started Dark Visions by L.J. Smith and am about a third of the way through the first book of three. I'm enjoying it so far and if all goes well, it will show up again in my October wrap up.

For the contemporary-a-thon, I read 7 books in 7 days! Including Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott, I also read China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (3.5 stars). I don't think it was as good as the first book in the series. This one didn't really have much of a focus and it didn't have the drama that I came to expect from the first one. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (4 stars) was heartbreaking and not the kind of book you should read for a readathon-- I cried the whole day afterwards. I'm not a fan of thrillers but have always wanted to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (3 stars). I felt like there was a a very slow build-up to a 5-page action scene. It was good but not my favorite. However, I will be continuing on in the series. And My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma (5 stars) was such a great book to start off the readathon. It was fun and everything about it was so adorable!

The last two I read for the contemporary-a-thon was Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes (3 stars) and Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore (4 stars). I would have given Moyes a higher rating if the book had only been Paris for One. The other stories in the collection were just not as good. Just Like the Movies was a cute contemporary that would have been perfect to read during summer. Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (3 stars) releases in October. I love Smith's Tantalize series so I had the highest expectations for this one and they fell a bit short. However, I did appreciate the Native teen voice that we rarely see in YA. When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen (5 stars), also, releases in October and it was such a treat. Everything Godbersen has created quickly becomes favorites and this one was no exception.

In my 2018 reading goals, I wanted to work on reading more classics. I was able to finish Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (4 stars) this month which was good. I loved the look at the sister relationship but I found almost every male character in the book to be unlikable. The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo (3 stars) is the last in the Jane Austen Legacy series. It's a retelling of Sense and Sensibility and it was a cute, modern take on the classic. Nightingale by Amy Lukavics (4 stars) kicked off my creepy reads for the fall months. It leaned a bit more towards science fiction than the horror I was expected but was still entertaining. Overall, an amazing reading month!

I was super busy this month. I had an amazing reading month. And it was my birthday month so I was out being social instead of watching television and movies. However, I did rent Adrift from my local library. It's hard to believe such an event was true but a woman was alone at sea for 41 days until rescue. It was an incredible movie with fantastic performances. Also, I started watching season 4 of Jane the Virgin on Netflix. So far, I'm loving it!

dramatic jane the virgin GIF

How was your September? What books did you read? Did you watch any movies/shows?

book review

Messes With Your Mind | Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Friday, September 21, 2018

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 9/25/18
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley (Thank you, Harlequin Teen!)
At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn't be--independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner's domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered--suburbia isn't the only prison for different women. June's parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal "medical treatments," the Institution preys on June's darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she's not alone. The Institution terrorizes June's fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear...or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn't sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.
June is content with staying in her room and writing all day. Her mother has other plans. In order to make June into a perfect woman, she must learn how to cook, slave over her brother’s and dad’s every whim, and fall in love with a financially stable man. Obsessed with writing her alien abduction story, June plans to escape and live the way she wants. However, when her escape turns sour, her parents send her to an awful asylum. And nothing is as it seems. All June ever wanted was to be free. Nightingale is a crazy whirlwind that will leave you shocked.

  • Going into Nightingale, I was expecting ghosts or other paranormal activity, leaning more towards the horror genre. Instead, Nightingale is more of a science fiction, delving into the unknown. Nightingale is extremely compelling. Science fiction has never been my favorite but this page turner has a way of gripping you right in.
  • The 1950s setting gives the book the perfect atmosphere. Lukavics explores extreme gender roles. Nightingale will be sure to start discussions when June’s mother explains her desire in making June the perfect woman. All June wanted was to escape suffocating societal rules, gender roles, and doing what's always expected of her. She doesn’t want a future that's already mapped out for her, on the road to becoming the perfect woman, the perfect wife. She’s the type to color outside the lines and readers will absolutely love her narrative. 
shutter island GIF
  • Nightingale is a YA Shutter Island. With monsters in dark tunnels and things pretending to be humans, Nightingale is sure to haunt both your waking hours and your dreams. June is an unreliable narrator of the best kind. She constantly doubts her actions, her thoughts, and even her own eyes. Readers will trust June in her assessment one moment and the next, shaking their head at the absurdity of it. The book messes with readers’ minds. Readers will not know what to think. 
  • It does showcase a female/female romance which is appreciated. However, since the relationship is not the main focus of the work, it seems underdeveloped and superficial. 
  • Amy Lukavics is an incredible writer. The careful structure of the book mixes with the imaginative descriptions that jump off the page. Lukavics takes readers back and forth in time, explaining June's present life in the asylum and her past, leading up to the asylum. Despite sounding a bit confusing, the structure is quite brilliant. Lukavics only reveals so much at any given point, leaving readers curious to know more. 
  • The descriptions are cringe worthy, gruesome even. June becomes obsessed over writing detailed torture scenes of her own protagonist. It gets quite gory. If you are a queasy reader, this one may not be for you.
  • The ending leaves something to be desired. It took a direction no reader will foresee. However, this unpredictability quickly turns unbelievable and too ridiculous.

Nightingale was gruesome, undeniably entertaining, setting a terrifying atmosphere you will definitely want to read during autumn.